NATO war crimes

NATO war crimes
Stephen Lendman 
Date: January 27, 2012
Subject: WAR: About that War

Independent Libyan Fact-Finding Mission

by Stephen Lendman

A joint report was released by the Arab Organization for Human Rights (AOHR), Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), and International Legal Assistance Consortium (ILAC).

Their mission investigated alleged widespread international law violations since mid-February 2011. Its mandate included investigating those committed by:

• the former government;

• NATO; and

• insurgents.

It also sought to identify human rights issues, requiring Lybian and international attention.

Investigators included "leading international jurists and lawyers with expertise in international human rights law, international humanitarian law, international criminal law, transitional justice, and the development of legal systems in post-conflict environments."

Information obtained from witnesses, victims, and other parties were kept confidential unless already revealed and available.

Investigations weren't meant to be comprehensive. Rather, the mission tried "to convey the considered observations of its members, in order to facilitate, and prompt, the work of other bodies and authorities."

Investigators included:

(1) Raji Sourani: PCHR Director, Arab Organization for Human Rights President (AOHR), International Federation for Human Rights Vice President, Executive Committee of the International Committee of Jurists member, as well as other credentials.

(2) Amin Mekki Medani: Sudanese lawyer and former AOHR President. He also held various UN posts.

(3) Mohsen Awad: former AOHR Secretary-General and Egyptian Human Rights Council member.

(4) Amina Bouayach: Moroccan Organization for Human Rights President and International Federation for Human Rights Vice President.

(5) Agneta Johansson: International Legal Assistance Consortium (ILAC) Deputy Director.

(6) William Meyer: ILAC Chairman and former CEELI Prague Institute Executive Director.

(7) Daragh Murray: Republic of Ireland IRCHSS Scholar and head of PCHR's International Unit.

(8) Hany Abu Nahla: head of PCHR's Translation Unit.

From November 15 - 22, investigations and interviews were conducted in Western Libya alone, in and around Tripoli, Zawiya, Sibrata, Khoms, Zliten, Misrata, Tawergha, and Sirte. Significantly, Benghazi was omitted, an area plagued by insurgent crimes.

Findings revealed "significant" international law violations. However, imposed constraints prevented investigators from reaching "definitive legal conclusions regarding individual incidents." Nonetheless, they believe crimes of war and against humanity were committed.

Evidence suggests NATO classified civilian sites as military ones for attacks, including homes, schools, colleges, food distribution centers, hospitals, mosques, and others. In addition, civilians were targeted, notably in Sirte.

In fact, one incident there killed 47 or more non-combatants. This and other incidents raise "significant questions," requiring further inquiry and disclosure.

Insurgents also violated international law, including civilian killings; torture and other abuses; wrongful detentions; mistreatment of foreign workers, and forced "displacement of suspected enemies of the Revolution."

Observations about Gaddafi's Governance

Unfortunately, investigators used dubious sources, calling his authority "one man rule." They include the International Criminal Court (ICC) and International Crisis Group (ICG). Neither functions independently.

The ICC notoriously serves Western interests. As a result, it absolves or ignores their crimes while targeting their enemies like Gaddafi.

Former World Bank vice president Mark Malloch Brown and former US diplomat Morton Abramowitz co-founded the ICG. Now headed by former US diplomat Thomas Pickering and former International Criminal Tribunals chief prosecutor for Yugoslavia and Rwanda Louise Arbour, it functions the same way.

Its Executive Committee and advisors include former US and Western officials, former NATO commander Wesley Clark, and corporate figures like George Soros. They, in turn, reframed responsibility to protect authority in Libya to lawlessly intervene belligerently to establish neo-colonial rule. In fact, UN Charter provisions explicitly prohibit military force for humanitarian interventions.

Investigators also mischaracterized Jamahiriya governance, calling it "an elaborate facade" to hide Gaddafi's sole authority. Quoting the ICG, they described it as "a highly complex formal ruling system containing a plethora of congresses and committees, often with overlapping powers, that have contributed to a sense of orchestrated and perpetual chaos."

In addition by calling himself "Brother Leader," Gaddafi "avoid(ed) accountability."

They quoted the ICC saying "the Libyan State apparatus of power - including political, administrative, military and security branches - consists of a complex set of units and individuals, all of which are ultimately subject to the orders and control of" Gaddafi.

They ignored Washington's longstanding regime change policy. As a result, an externally generated insurgency followed. In addition, the National Transitional Council (NTC) was illegitimately established with interim puppet authority for Western interests. Libyans are entirely shut out.

Nonetheless, investigators called it "internationally recognized as the Government of Libya....to oversee the transition to representative democracy."

In fact, Washington, NATO partners, and complicit regional states don't tolerate democracy or international law. Ignoring that denies reality.

Moreover, investigators claim "pre-revolutionary Libya (was) characterized by a climate of fear, in which individuals were afraid to speak their mind, where opposition - real or perceived - was ruthlessly crushed, and where security forces committed apparently widespread and systematic abuses with total impunity."

Sadly, the facts belie this description. Most Libyans supported Gaddafi and still do. During NATO's intervention, overwhelming numbers rallied openly. On July 1, 2011, 95% of Tripoli's population (over a million strong) expressed support in Green Square.

Fear restrains them now. Doing so risks imprisonment, torture, and/or death by summary execution.

Libya's social state was also ignored, including under Gaddafi's 1999 Decision No. 111. It assured all Libyans free healthcare, education, electricity, water, training, rehabilitation, housing assistance, disability and old-age benefits, interest-free state loans, as well as generous subsidies to study abroad, buy a new car, help couples when they marry, practically free gasoline, and more.

Literacy under Gaddafi rose from 20 - 80%. Libya's hospitals and private clinics were some of the region's best. Now they're in shambles.

Before war began, Libyans had Africa's highest standard of living. Gaddafi's  Green Book said:

"The house is a basic need of both the individual and the family, therefore it should not be owned by others." It also covered other social policies, saying:

• "Women, like men, are human beings.

• ....(A)ll individuals have a natural right to self-expression by any means....;

• In a socialist society no person may own a private means of transportation for the purpose of renting to others, because this represents controlling the needs of others.

• The democratic system is a cohesive structure whose foundation stones are firmly laid above the other (through People's Conferences and Committees). There is absolutely no conception of democratic society other than this.

• No representation of the people - representation is a falsehood. The existence of parliaments underlies the absence of the people, for democracy can only exist with the presence of the people and not in the presence of representatives of the people."

Green Book ideology rejects Western-style democracy and predatory capitalism, especially neoliberal exploitation. It's one of many reasons why Gaddafi was ousted.

His impressive social benefits also included free land, equipment, livestock and seeds for agriculture to foster self-sufficient food production. In addition, all basic food items were subsidized and sold through a network of "people's shops."

Moreover, since the 1960s, women could vote and participate politically. They could also own and sell property independently of their husbands. Under the December 1969 Constitutional Proclamation Clause 5, they had equal status with men, including for education and employment, even though men played leading roles in society.

Until Washington and rogue NATO partners blocked its approval, the UN Human Rights Council praised Gaddafi in its January 2011 "Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Libya Arab Jamahiriya."

It said his government protected "not only political rights, but also economic, educational, social and cultural rights." It also lauded his treatment of religious minorities, and "human rights training" of its security forces.

Throughout most of 2011, NATO's killing machine destroyed 42 years of achievements. All Libyans benefitted. Why else did Gaddafi have overwhelming support?

His vision marked him for removal. It was just a matter of when, even though he cooperated with Western powers post-9/11 on matters of intelligence and terrorism.

Until vilified and targeted, he was welcomed in Western capitals. In 2003, he came in from the cold, became a valued Western ally, and had meetings and discussions with top officials like UK Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, France's Nicolas Sarkozy, Italy's Silvio Berlusconi, US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, and others.

He also participated in the 2009 G-8 Summit in L'Aquila, Italy as Chairman of the African Union. At the time, he met and shook hands with Obama.

Moreover, ABC News interviewed him live, and on January 21, 2009, The New York Times published his op-ed headlined, "The One-State Solution" to resolve the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. He called "living under one roof....the only option for a lasting peace."

On May 16, 2006, Washington restored full diplomatic relations. Libya was removed from its state sponsors of terrorism list. At the time, Rice called the move:

"tangible results that flow from the historic decisions taken by Libya's leadership in 2003 to renounce terrorism and to abandon its weapons of mass destruction programs....Libya is an important model as nations around the world press for changes in behavior by the Iranian and North Korean regimes."

She also praised Gaddafi's "excellent cooperation" in fighting terrorism. Moreover, he opened Libya's markets to Western interests by arranging deals with Big Oil giants BP, ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell, Occidental, France's Total, Italy's Eni Gas and others. By all appearances, he joined the club, so why turn on him?

Though on board in some ways, he very much wasn't on others. He supported Palestinian rights. As a result, he opposed Israel's occupation and Gaza's siege.

Earlier he backed South Africa's anti-apartheid struggles, as well as others in Northern Ireland, Spain, and elsewhere.

He opted out of AFRICOM's imperial regional plan. He wanted Libyans to control their own resources and use revenues domestically for all Libyans. His Central Bank of Libya was state owned. It created its own money interest-free for economic growth, not speculation and wealth for predatory bankers.

He promoted pan-African unity, an idea anathema to Washington and Western powers. He advocated a new "Gold Standard," replacing dollars with gold dinars, and hoped other African and Muslim states would adopt the idea. That alone got him targeted for removal.

He had nothing to do with downing Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988. Neither did Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi. Scottish judges knew he was innocent but were pressured to convict.

Gaddafi never admitted fault. He took responsibility solely to have international sanctions removed. To this day, he and al-Megrahi stand falsely accused. Likely CIA /MI6/and/or Mossad involvement is never mentioned.

A Final Comment

Libyan Investigators have legitimate credentials as human rights supporters. Organizations like PCHR do extraordinary work. They deserve praise, encouragement and help.

Their report highlighted international crimes, need for more investigation, and prosecutions for those responsible.

It expressed concern for ongoing abuses in detention, mistreatment of foreign workers, and forced displacements of suspected Gaddafi loyalists. It called for measures to stop ongoing crimes.

Nonetheless, it wrongfully said "Libya is emerging from 42 years of authoritarian rule and governance characterized by injustice, the denial of fundamental human rights, and impunity."

Libya's now repressively occupied. A climate of fear prevails. Insurgent killers threaten Gaddafi supporters. Silence best protects them. Nonetheless, Libyans revealed crimes committed by NATO and rebel rat forces.

However, others condemning Gaddafi appear suspect. Indeed, he had enemies, but most Libyans supported him with good reason. As a result, the report tragically falls short. It includes NATO and insurgent crimes but mischaracterizes Gaddafi's rule.

Hopefully, another mission will follow in less volatile times. Violence still rages. Little gets reported. Western media scoundrels entirely suppress it. Libyans deserve better. Their nation was peaceful until NATO showed up. Now it's destroyed and all previously enjoyed rights lost.

Mission team members must acknowledge it and point fingers where they belong.


In mid-January, 12,000 US troops were positioned in Malta ahead of occupying Libya. On January 18, Libya SOS said hundreds of American soldiers already arrived. Libya's Western-appointed foreign minister said 6,000 came to Tripoli's Mitiga International Airport.

Straightaway, they set up "mobile camps and equipment around oil fields and refineries." In other words, they're protecting Western interests, principally oil. Libyans lost their rightful resources and living standard they afforded.

"Tunis Focus" reports that US forces are in Brega, Ras Lanouf, Sirte, and Tripoli's Mitiga International Airport. Moreover, US and NATO helicopters, warplanes, and drones now patrol Libyan airspace. They're surveilling and attacking suspicious targets.
Ahead lies occupation, neo-colonization, pillaging, exploitation, violence and repression. It persists wherever America shows up. So does overwhelming suffering and human misery. Libyans experienced it for months. Much more lies ahead.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.